TJE 24: Seeing Giants (On the Road in a Big Country… Again! Part 3)

Towering sequoias at Sequoia National Park California

(Read Introduction or Part 2)

One of the cool things about traveling is seeing stuff that I learned in school.  Places, creatures and objects, which in the past were witnessed only in pictures and existed in the imagination, materialize.

December 30, 2013 – With the plane descending to Los Angeles, it was evident how much more populated and alive this city is compared to the previous one.  My dad picked me up at the airport and then we headed to the hotel where my close cousins and their family were staying.

Side note: Since I have traveled quite a lot with my close cousins and their family, and this is not the first time I mentioned them in this blog, I should probably describe and put a name (nick name) on them now. I have two close cousins, Jen and Jeff by virtue of our dads, who are brothers.  Jen’s husband is Alex, and their daughter is Just. Jeff’s wife is Glad, and their son is Josh. Jen and Jeff’s mom, my aunt, is Alice. All of them usually travel together as a family.

Now on to the story, “Tito Jecoy!” Just and Josh screamed when they saw me arrive (Tito means uncle).  So I checked in at the hotel, and caught up with the family. It wasn’t that long since we saw each other, for they visited Korea a month before.

“Your eye bags are quite prominent.” Tita (means aunt) Alice remarked.  “I lack so much sleep!” I answered.  Well, my body’s utterly confused that time.

January 1, 2014, we were at Jen’s best friend’s house celebrating New Year. A couple of hours after welcoming 2014, Jen and I still did not have a definite itinerary for days before Las Vegas weekend (already arranged by her best friend) and between that and the last leg of the trip, which was New York City. The two of us usually plan (or roughly plan) and lead family trips. Admittedly, we normally procrastinate and end up cramming, tee hee! And we still do not have a hotel in New York City.

The immediate need however was to fill-in the days before Las Vegas. Good thing one lady at the party talked to us about traveling. She recommended going to Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park, and convinced us that overnight stay is good enough. So, we took note of her tips and arranged for it the next day, or rather, the afternoon of January 1. Great, we were about to see Sequoias!

January 2 – we left Glendale after brunch and headed to Three Rivers – the village before Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. Our chosen accommodation is located there. It took around 5 hours to get to our destination. As a passenger however, I didn’t mind. One thing great about traveling by land in the USA is that, seeing the views along the way is a pleasure on its own. I keep saying that when describing my travel experience in this big country, but it’s just true!

TJE 24 a

Sequoia Village Inn – this is where we rented a cabin for the night. We checked in, but did not go inside yet because we wanted to see Sequoias right away.

In about five minutes of driving, we reached the gate of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. At that time the sun was golden, and the scenery was just beautiful!

TJE 24 b TJE 24 c

The curved roads uphill should be dealt cautiously so our pace was quite slow. We did not reach the main attraction of the site because it got dark already. However, we went far enough to see a few giant trees, like these three:

TJE 24 d

Seeing these giants for me was like being star-struck. It’s because I started picturing them in my mind since the second grade (if my memory serves me right). I was a Science geek, you know.

Added for scale comparison
Added for size comparison

We headed back to Sequoia Village Inn and settled at one of the cabins. I don’t really have to mention this, but at that time, the song “The Cabin” by Ylvis (singers of the web hit “The Fox”) kept playing in my head. LOL.

TJE 24 f

The next day we went up again to see more giants. And giants they were.

TJE 24 g
The trees grow so big that some fall under their own weight.
Big, just big.
Big, just big.
Tunnel carved through a fallen giant
Tunnel carved through a fallen giant

The main attraction at the park as far as trees are concerned is General Sherman Tree – considered to be the largest tree on earth. It may not be the tallest or the thickest at the base, but has the most wood volume. And it’s also considered the largest living thing on earth. Way to go Sherman!


The i-don't-think-this-is-right-but-it-says-it-is smile
The i-don’t-think-this-is-right-but-it-says-it-is smile

…is not the General Sherman Tree. On one platform, there was this information panel that says something like, “Here it is, the biggest tree on earth!”  That platform was nearby the tree pictured above, so we thought that’s it. It was hard to believe, we were pretty sure we saw larger ones earlier.  But hey, the panel says it is… NOT!  Reading more description, my aunt soon realized it was referring to the tree farther away, seen across the empty space. Ha! Okay, it was time to walk further.  Just so you know, we were not the only tourists who prematurely jumped into conclusions (defensive).


General Sherman Tree
General Sherman Tree

…is the real deal. 🙂

Shot from afar to capture the whole of General Sherman Tree
Shot from afar to capture the whole of General Sherman Tree

Having seen that, we decided to head down, stopped and ate dinner at Gateway Restaurant in Three Rivers, and then drove all the way back to Glendale. This, although short, was one special trip. Seeing the biggest tree – check!

US trip was going pretty good. To be continued…

THIS view on the way down though...
THIS view on the way down though…
I highly recommend staying here.
I highly recommend staying here.
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